Cliff Burton born in Castro Valley, California where he would find his influence with bass guitar from his father and the death of his brother.
While attending high school, Cliff formed his first band with EZ-Street which performed at a topless bar in the Bay Area of California. Upon his performances, he would practice six hours a day, everyday wanting to be the best bass player to ever exist citing his influences of play style by, Geedy Lee, Geezer Butler, Phil Lynott, Stanley Clarke and Lemmy Kilmister.
With EZ-Street, Cliff played with guitarist, "Big" Jim Martin and drummer, Mike Bordin through 1981 when they attended Chabot College in Hayward, California.
1981 they changed their name to Agents of Misfortune when they went to a Battle of The Bands contest in the Hayward area. This contest was one of the first video recordings of Cliff's bass playing. With that video, it would conclude to be then later on two Metallica songs, "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" and "For Whom The Bell Tolls" from Burton's bass solo.
After breaking away from Agents of Misfortune, Cliff joined what would be a bigger metal band, Trauma in 1982.
1982 when performing at the Whiskey A Go Go, it was unexpected that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, two members of Metallica who just formed last year would be at the club. After hearing some of the songs and solos, James and Lars wanted to see the guitarist who was playing because they liked the style and the sound he had. Little did they know it was actually a bass played by Burton that made those sounds. James and Lars asked if Cliff could replace their departed bassist Ron McGovney. Cliff who just joined Trauma accepted the offer.
The move from San Francisco to Los Angeles was hard for Burton, but Metallica moved away from L.A up to El Ceritto, just across the San Fran. Bay. There, they would have a demo tape, No Life 'Till Leather that was already fulfilled before Cliff joined. Sending the tape to Megaforce Records in New Jersey, they were in contact with the owner to make a deal. Shortly after making the deal, Metallica released their debut album on July 25th, 1983, Kill 'Em All featuring Cliff's famous bass playing with, (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth.
Their second album release, Ride The Lightning recieved more influence in pop culture as their musical talent expanded across continents and Cliff's playing became even more popular with hits like, "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Call of The Ktulu". This gained attention across major record labels and Metallica then signed with Elecktra Records and instantly worked on their third album, Master of Puppets. This album would be Metallica's best album commercially as it is trademarked as the landmark for Heavy Metal.
Performing in Sweeden on Sept. 26, 1986, it would be the last album and last performance Cliff does with the last song played by him was, Fight Fire With Fire.
In Sweeden, Metallica was on tour with Damage Inc. for support with their album, Master of Puppets. After a night of performing, Metallica was on a tour bus and drew cards to pick bunks to sleep on. Cliff won with the ace of spades and chose to sleep in Hammett's bunk. When sleeping, the bus skided on the road and flipped causing Cliff to fly out a bus window. The bus then proceeded to barrell rolls and landed on top of Cliff resulting in an instant death at the age of 24.
Cliff was brought back to the states where a memorial service took place and he was cremated with Burton's ashes scattered around Maxwell Ranch.
Brought onto Earth: Feburary 10, 1962
Passage to Heaven: September 27, 1986
Awards, Memorials, Recognitions
Metallica wrote a tribute song to Burton "To Live Is to Die" for their album ...And Justice for All. Burton received a writing credit for the lyrics in the song.
Megadeath wrote a tribute song, "In My Darkest Hour".
A memorial stone was placed in Sweden near the scene of the crash. The lyrics "...cannot the Kingdom of Salvation take me home" from "To Live Is to Die" are written on Burton's memorial stone.
Anthrax dedicated their album Among the Living to him, along with Metal Church's, The Dark.
April 4, 2009, Burton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Metallica bandmates James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett.
Biography, To Live Is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton was written by Joel McIver.
Rasputin Music in celebration of Record Store Day, April 16, 2016. Song "Fade to Black" was played with Hetfield dedicating the song to Burton.
Burton's parents have been donating his posthumous royalty payments for a scholarship fund of music students at Castro Valley High School.
2018, Alameda County, California, Board of Supervisors issued making February 10, 2018, which would have been Burton's 56th birthday, "Cliff Burton Day".
The S&M2 concert of 2019 featuring San Francisco Symphony bassist Scott Pingel paying tribute for Burton by playing Burton's signature bass solo, "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)",
Cliff Burton quote
"When a man lies, he murders some part of the world. These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives. All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?"
Author Notes: R.I.P Cliff